Feb. 11, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Republicans Find Fresh Voice on Gender Issue

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers greets her son Cole, 4, at the beginning of Easter recess.

These sources pointed out that House Members are rarely picked, that Washington state is all but certain to go to Obama, that McMorris Rodgers hasn’t faced — and might not be ready for — the unrelenting scrutiny of the presidential race and that she isn’t well-known nationally.

John Dunagan, a Republican strategist and senior vice president at DDC Advocacy, said: “I don’t think it’s impossible. I think it’s probably unlikely.” Dunagan also noted a potential pitfall: Picking a woman could “feed the narrative” that Romney is struggling with female voters, he said.

Either by accident or design, the discussion could raise McMorris Rodgers’ profile and help her ascent in the House. Republicans said leadership is happy to have a woman as part of the party’s public face, and some spoke of plans to raise her profile. “You’ll hear a lot more from her in the next couple of months,” one GOP Member said.

“I’m interested in running for Conference chair,” McMorris Rodgers said. “And I’m going to be looking at that and talking to Members. [Current Conference Chairman] Jeb Hensarling [Texas] is going to be looking at Financial Services [Committee], so I think there will be an opening there,” she added.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) backed her for Conference vice chairwoman in 2008, and she was re-elected unanimously in 2010. Her focus has mostly been on messaging, not on steering the party’s direction, GOP sources said.

McMorris Rodgers is known for coining catchy talking points, and she has succeeded in bringing Republicans up to speed on new media, personally meeting with every Member to encourage them to use Facebook and Twitter. She recently opened an event with conservative bloggers by welcoming the moderator, the Heritage Foundation’s Robert Bluey, as her 10,000th follower. She also turned her Capitol hideaway office into a social media headquarters called “GOP Labs,” where aides work on videos and monitor the Web.

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